Wednesday March 13th


US stock futures rise slightly but uncertainties linger over Brexit and Boeing

U.S. stock index futures rose slightly Wednesday as investors continued to monitor political and economic uncertainties across the globe. At 7:18 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up 23 points, implying a gain of 33 points at the open. Futures on S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also traded higher. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were poised to post their third straight gain, while the Dow tried to regain some traction after steep pressure from Boeing. Boeing posted another sharp decline on Tuesday amid worries over the safety of one of its most popular airplanes. Boeing shares fell more than 6 percent after several countries, including China, the European Union and Indonesia, grounded all flights involving the 737 Max model. Boeing shares fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday. The plane has been involved in two deadly crashes in less than six months, including one on Sunday. Edward Jones also downgraded the stock to hold from buy, citing a possible "delay in orders" after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Meanwhile, investor attention is firmly focused on the fallout from the U.K.'s decision to reject its Brexit deal with the EU on Tuesday evening. The agreement was rejected by 149 votes after 242 MPs voted for the deal and 391 MPs voted against it. British MPs will now vote on Wednesday on whether to leave the EU without a deal. If they reject that option, as expected, MPs will then get to vote on Thursday on whether to request a delayed departure from the EU. Back in the U.S., a slew of data are expected on Wednesday. Orders for long-lasting durable goods rose in January for the third month in a row and business investment posted the biggest increase since last summer, indicating a key segment of the economy is still expanding at a steady if unspectacular pace. Orders rose 0.4% in January, according to a government report delayed because of the partial federal shutdown earlier this year. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.1% decline. If transportation is stripped out, orders dipped 0.1% owing to decline in bookings for new cars and trucks. This will be followed by construction spending data at 10 a.m. ET. Asia Pacific markets were mostly lower on Wednesday amid fresh global uncertainties after U.K. lawmakers again rejected the terms of a deal for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell nearly 1 percent to 21,290.24 while the Topix index was down 0.84 percent at 1,592.07. The Kospi index in South Korea retraced some of its earlier losses and declined 0.41 percent to 2,148.41 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.52 percent. Mainland Chinese shares were also lower. The Shanghai compositewas down 1.09 percent at 3,026.95 while the Shenzhen composite fell 2.31 percent. Oil prices rose on Wednesday, buoyed by an official forecast showing slower-than-expected U.S. production, and as U.S. sanctions stall exports from Venezuela. International Brent crude oil futures were at $66.89 a barrel at 0955 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.33 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $57.31 per barrel, up 44 cents, or 0.77 percent. Gold rose to a near two-week peak on Wednesday, holding above the key $1,300 mark as uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union drove investors to safe haven assets. Spot gold was up 0.45 percent at $1,308.15 per ounce, at 1107 GMT, having hit its highest since March 1 at $1,308.98. U.S. gold futures rose 0.8 percent to $1,308.40.